Information for federal workers who received back pay and contractors affected by the government shutdown

(en español)

Updated Jan. 30, 2019

Back pay update from ESD Commissioner Suzi LeVine

Federal workers who receive back pay after receiving unemployment benefits

On Jan 16, 2019, President Trump officially signed a bill that guarantees back pay for federal workers who have been furloughed during the government's partial shutdown.

Q: What do I do if I received unemployment benefits and then received back pay after the shutdown has ended?
A: Once you receive back pay, you will be responsible for paying back any unemployment benefits received. We are sending you a letter that explains the paperwork you will be receiving: first asking you to report your back pay followed by a determination letter about the amount of benefits you need to pay back.

Q: How do I pay back unemployment insurance benefits?
 Because you cannot receive back pay and unemployment benefits at the same time, we will send you a decision letter indicating that you will need to repay the unemployment benefits. Once you receive your back pay, please call us at 866-697-4831 to talk about a repayment plan that will best suits your situation. No fees or interest will be charged with a repayment plan. Payments can be made online or by mail. If you wish to make installments, the minimum monthly payment equals one-third of your weekly benefit amount, 3 percent of the balance, or $25, whatever is greater.

We don’t charge interest unless you miss part or all of two or more minimum monthly payments. If that happens, we charge 1 percent interest per month. Read more about the repaying benefits and how we calculate interest.

If you work for a federal contractor and you are furloughed or laid off

Q: I am a federal contractor affected by the federal shutdown. Am I eligible for unemployment benefits?
If you work for a company that is contracted by the U.S. government, you are not considered a federal employee. However, if you are furloughed or laid off by your company during the shutdown, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits.

Here are instructions for how to apply for unemployment benefits either online or by phone.

NOTE: If you do receive unemployment benefits and later receive back pay during the shutdown, you will be required to repay any unemployment benefits you received.

What if my company lays me off as a result of the partial federal government shutdown?
A: If you apply for unemployment benefits, you may ask to be placed on standby if you: 

  • Are a full-time employee.
  • Expect to return to full-time work with your regular employer in the near future.

Follow these instructions to request standby. When you apply for unemployment benefits:

  • Answer “yes” to the question, “Do you have a definite return-to-work date with this employer on or before mm/dd/yyyy?”
  • When you are asked for the specific date you will return to work, enter a date four weeks (28 days) in the future.

If you apply by phone, tell the claims agent that you are unemployed as a direct result of the federal shutdown and expect to return to work once the shutdown ends.

See more information about unemployment benefits for federal employees.